Watching your teenage daughter experience romantic breakups can be difficult. According to the article "Love and Romance" from TeensHealth, a website of the Nemours Center for Children's Health Media, the ability to develop romantic feelings begins in adolescence. Adolescent relationships usually last for short periods as teens are discovering more about their self-identity, values and goals. When your daughter's relationship does end, you may need to not only support her but also find the appropriate way to deal with her ex-boyfriend. Handling her ex-boyfriend the right way can help your daughter learn from the experience and move forward.
Talk to your daughter to learn why the relationship ended. Encourage her to share her feelings and listen to her concerns. If she is hurting, don't try to minimize her pain and act like it's not a big deal since she's "just a kid." According to the article "Adolescent Relationships" on the Adolescent Counseling Services website, the loss of a relationship can make a teenager feel like a failure and cause her to worry she will never have a boyfriend again.
Establish boundaries with your daughter's ex-boyfriend to avoid sending your daughter mixed signals or violating her trust. It's perfectly acceptable to greet him politely if you happen to run into him, but it is not okay to seek him out and talk to him about what went wrong in their relationship. If he is hurt and upset, encourage him to talk to his parents or another trusted adult. If you feel he wrongfully broke your daughter's heart, resist the urge to put him in his place.
Empower your daughter to handle issues with her ex-boyfriend herself. Do not meddle or try to help get them back together by telling him how she feels. Teach her how to treat her ex respectfully and not lead him on if he still likes her.
Intervene if you learn your daughter's ex-boyfriend has been abusive or is making threats. According to the 2012 fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Understanding Teen Dating Violence," around 9 percent of high school students said they were slapped, hit or physically harmed by a girlfriend or boyfriend in the past 12 months. Dating violence can be physical, sexual or emotional. It can also include stalking and harassment. Develop a safety plan with your daughter to ensure she is as safe as possible as she goes about her daily business. For more information on dating abuse, call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474.
- If your daughter does not want to talk about her feelings about her ex-boyfriend, do not pressure her. Let her know that you are there for her when she wants to talk. Encourage her to spend time with friends and do activities she enjoys.
Sharon O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has been published on various websites, including Walden University's Think+Up. She has worked in international business and is a licensed customs broker. She is currently a supervisor with a social service agency that works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University.
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